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As there are peculiar affections wrought in the mind, when sinners belonging to the election of grace are first made particularly acquainted with their own guilt, sinfulness, and heart apostacy from the Lord; so as it respects those who have awfully backslidden from the Lord, their frames and feelings on their sense of this, and their experiences which consist in their inward apprehension of the same, as it is only known unto the Lord, so he alone can describe it. Whilst I am no great friend to our descriptions of what we feel under a variety of cases; yet I most highly value what is recorded in the scriptures, either of the operation of the Spirit of God upon the minds of the regenerate, or that which respects the state of their minds and inward feelings, as stated and set before us in the written Word. The two former verses with the present one, form one grand whole: a chain of truths and experiences, of causes and effects, which are not to be separated one from the other. The reason why I have cast them into three distinct sermons is, that the important truths contained in them, might the more clearly and distinctly appear. I will now recite them. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon
horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. By the good words the Lord hath spoken, the people are called up, and encouraged to return to Him from whom they had deeply revolted. The Lord, in order to facilitate their return to him, puts the very words into their mouths which most exactly suited their cases, and were fully expressive of their desires. They felt what they were, and they expressed themselves before the Lord agreeably to the same. This was according to the divine direction.Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. The whole is the language of true repentance. It is all genuine. One part of the prayer makes way for the rest. The request for the taking away all iniquity, makes way for the Lord's receiving graciously. Upon this, these poor sinful backsliders are constrained to say, So will we render the calves of our lips: asscribing our whole salvation, from sin, the world, Satan, death, and hell, and our present recovery from our past backsliding, to thy free grace mercy; for it is in thee alone the fatherless and guilty find mercy. When the Lord thus works
́upon any of us, it is in connexion with that great promise, in which he expresses himself thus: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born. Zech. xii, v. 10. When the Lord Jesus Christ is pleased to look influentially and manifestatively upon his church, and thus shine upon them, and into their hearts; it cannot but of necessity produce these most blessed and gracious effects, and also these benign influences in their hearts and minds. The words of my present text contain the following particulars.
First-Here is a renunciation of all help and succour, in all creatures, and all dependance for salvation, on any thing inherent.
Secondly-A declaration of having no more to do with any of the works of their hands.
Thirdly-The reason which is assigned for this. It is because of that which the Lord is, and of what such as these before us have found him to be; and such also as have been like themselves have found him to be: even him who compassionates the fatherless, and in whom such, even in their most deplorable cases, and when in their most abject and deplorable circumstances
find mercy. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our Gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
I am first to explain this part of my present text, which contains a renunciation of all help and succour, in all creatures, and all dependance in any thing inherent for salvation. We will not ride upon horses.
It will be good for us here to observe, we have all the initials of true gospel sorrow, and godly grief for sin, with all contained in that repentance which is unto, and belongs unto everlasting life expressed. Turning to the Lord, acknowledging our case, deploring our sinfulness, praying for the Lord's gracious acceptation of us, a declaration of our future acknowledgement of these gratuitous acts of the Lord towards us; and then a full renunciation of ourselves, with the sole ascription to the free grace of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Essential Three, in the one Incomprehensible Godhead; this involves and includes all contained in godly sorrow for sin; in turning to the Lord, in taking hold of his covenant, and pleading the same at his throne of grace. Now let us but read afresh all the preceding words, with those now before us, and all this will shine forth as clear and evident as light doth from the sun. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. When we are at first convinced of our sinfulness, that sin which has been most captivating to our minds, and carried us off into the commission of abundance of transgressions, is the one we most bitterly lament and bewail; so when restored from a backsliding state and case, those things which have most conspired to take off our confidence from the Lord, and estranged our hearts from him, are the very same we most heartily detest, and of all others renounce, when under the mighty operation of grace, we are constrained to return back again to him. It was one of the national sins of Israel, to trust in the Assyrians for help and succour; when in trouble and distress they looked to them. They are by many of the prophets warned of this evil, and most severely reproved for the same; yet all this did not save them from it: so we are all of us looking to, and trusting in something of our own, or in ourselves, to save us, until by the light of the Lord's Word and Spirit, we are fully convinced we can do nothing for ourselves. Israel, convinced by the Lord of his exceeding sinfulness in his backsliding state